12 Actors Who Missed Out on Career-Defining Roles

year ago

Do you ever wonder how different your favorite movie would’ve been if the main character was played by someone else? The reality is there were probably multiple candidates in contention for the legendary roles we all know and love. Let’s take a look at some of the stories that give us a better idea of how the inclusion of a different star could’ve transformed some films.

1. Brendan Fraser as Superman in Superman Returns

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Who got the role: Brendon Routh

Fraser once recalled how an opportunity to become the next Superman was so close he could taste it, but he chose to pass on it after all: “Of course, it’s a life-changing, amazing opportunity, but I had to reconcile with, ’Okay, say you do get the job to be the Man of Steel. It’s going to be chipped on your gravestone. Are you okay with that? You will forevermore be known as the Man of Steel.’”

2. Russel Crowe as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy

Who got the role: Viggo Mortensen

Even though The Lord of the Rings could’ve been a great next step for Russell Crowe once, the actor chose to trust his gut and turned down the offer to play Aragorn: “I didn’t think [director] Peter Jackson actually wanted me on the film. I think he was forced into talking to me, because there was a moment in time when everybody wanted me in everything... my instinct was that he had somebody else in mind... and he should be able to hire the actor that he wants.”

3. Emilia Clarke as Anastasia Steele in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy

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Who got the role: Dakota Johnson

Clarke’s decision to turn down the famous book role was based strictly on her lack of desire to do intimate scenes: “Well, Sam [Taylor-Johnson, the director] is a magician. I love her, and I thought her vision was beautiful. But the last time that I was naked on camera on [Game of Thrones] was a long time ago, and yet it is the only question that I ever get asked because I am a woman... No way am I going to voluntarily walk into that situation.”

4. Justin Timberlake as Elton John in Rocketman

David Appleby/Everett Collection/East News, Invision/Invision/East News

Who got the role: Taron Egerton

Since Timberlake once starred in a video parody of an Elton John song, the Tiny Dancer singer was considering Justin to play him in his biopic. However, after some deliberation, Elton and his husband, who produced the movie, chose to go in a different direction: “But we never formerly approached Justin because we weren’t ever at a stage where it was the right time to approach him. But he did an amazing job in the video. He put on a prosthetic nose, and it turned out to have been some really interesting acting work as well.”

5. Gwyneth Paltrow as Rose in Titanic

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Who got the role: Kate Winslet

Paltrow once explained that despite some people believing she turned down the role, she actually, most likely, missed out on it: “I know that the story is that I turned it down. I think I was really in contention for it — I was one of the last 2.” But Gwyneth has no regrets: “There’s a universal lesson here. What good is it to hold onto roles?”

6. Christina Applegate as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde

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Who got the role: Reese Witherspoon

The fear of being typecast is very real for many Hollywood actors, and that is exactly why Applegate passed on what could’ve been the role of her career: “The script came along my way and it was right after I had just finished, Married [...with Children], and it was a blonde who in that first script didn’t win it but ends up going to Yale, or Harvard, I don’t remember. I got scared of kind of repeating myself. What a stupid move that was, right?”

7. John Travolta as Forrest in Forrest Gump

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Who got the role: Tom Hanks

Over the course of his career, Travolta has had to make some tough choices. Looking back at his decisions, the Grease star once recalled: “Oh, if I had done Forrest Gump or Chicago, what might have been?” But based on his stellar filmography, we’d say Travolta has done pretty well for himself in Hollywood.

8. Emma Watson as Mia in La La Land

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Who got the role: Emma Stone

Unfortunately for Watson, La La Land became a scheduling conflict with Beauty and the Beast for her. The actress explained that both projects demanded a lot of preparation, so it was impossible for her to commit to both: “I knew I had to do the work, and I had to be where I had to be. So, you know, scheduling conflict-wise, it just didn’t work out.”

9. Matthew McConaughey as Jack in Titanic

© Titanic / Twentieth Century Fox and co-producers, Mary Evans/AF Archive/Graham Whitby Boot/East News

Who got the role: Leonardo DiCaprio

The Interstellar star came very close to falling in love with Rose in the 1997 film: “I went and auditioned for that. I wanted that. I auditioned with Kate Winslet. Had a good audition. Walked away from there pretty confident that I had it. I didn’t get it. I never got offered that.”

10. Hugh Jackman as James Bond in Daniel Craig’s Bond movies

EAST NEWS, Adam Orchon/Everett Collection/East News

Who got the role: Daniel Craig

Every few decades, the choice of the next James Bond gnaws at fans and all of the people involved in creating these famous movies. You might be surprised to learn that we could’ve had Hugh Jackman in the role of the legendary spy: “I was about to do X-Men 2 and a call came from my agent asking if I’d be interested in Bond.” Ultimately Jackman was “worried that between Bond and X-Men, I’d never have time to do different things.”

11. Sandra Bullock as Neo in The Matrix franchise

© The Matrix Revolutions / Warner Bros. and co-producers, Mary Evans/AF Archive/Graham Whitby Boot/East News

Who got the role: Keanu Reeves

The legendary role of Neo could’ve been completely different if the producers gave up on finding the perfect male actor.

One of the producers revealed that they loved Sandra in Speed, and so they approached her: “We went to Sandy Bullock and said, ’We’ll change Neo to a girl.’ [...] We sent her the script to see if she was interested in it. And if she was interested in it, we would try to make the change. [...] It just wasn’t something for her at the time. So, really, it didn’t go anywhere.”

12. Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Ron Weasley in Harry Potter franchise

Who got the role: Rupert Grint

The Love Actually star auditioned for the famous movies when he was a little kid, and getting a rejection was very hard on him: “I do remember thinking, though, that the next time I went for an audition, I’d have to put up a shield to stop myself from getting hurt.” But the entire experience turned out to be a great lesson: “It was the last time I ever felt like that, so whatever I did seemed to work.”

Preview photo credit EAST NEWS, LANDMARK MEDIA / Alamy Stock Photo


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